The magical Jolly Carnival is the only life Rilla knows—and it’s falling apart around her. Just as she’s thrust into the role of Ringmaster after her father’s unexpected death, an old family friend turns up to challenge her birthright.
Her rival's sexy son Jack isn’t helping either. Despite being a greenhorn and an outsider, he's intent on charming everyone, convincing them all that Rilla isn’t up to the task of leading them through these tough times.
But Rilla must also contend with another threat—the ongoing sabotage that has been disturbing their delicate magical balance and threatening to destroy the Carnival. All signs are pointing to an insider, making it impossible to know who to trust.
To save her beloved Carnival, Rilla must do everything she can to find the saboteur before they attack again. But if she takes her eye off the battle for Ringmaster—even for a second—she risks losing everything she's trained for her entire life.
I love, love, love carnivals and anything related to them, so if I see a carnival book, I immediately pick it up and immerse myself in it’s story. When I first saw Ringmaster, by Trudi Jaye, I was so excited to start reading it that I bumped it to the top of my to-read list.
At first, I was disappointed. It started very slow. I kept at it though, because I really wanted to love this book. The story began to pick up about 50 pages in. It became intriguing enough to steadily hold my interest until the very end. Even though it’s far from being my new favorite carnival book, I finished Ringmaster satisfied.
One thing that I really enjoyed about this book was the character development. I really felt that all of the main characters were fleshed out well and were relatable in some way or another. Their relationships sometimes felt a bit forced though, such as the romance between Rilla and Jack. It didn’t feel like their relationship escalated naturally.
The world building was good and bad. I loved the original concept that is the Jolly Carnival. I would have loved to see the backstory and history of the carnival more explained. Sometimes it felt like the carnival itself was too much of a mystery, like the author hadn’t quite figured out why something worked the way it did, so she just left it as they mystery of the carnival and how it does things. I would love to read more about the carnival as it’s own character.
I really liked the ending, but I felt like the big twist at the end that showed the true villain came quite late in the game and somewhat out of left field. There wasn’t enough build-up to the twist to make it flow well with the rest of the story, and I wish there had been because I feel like the ending itself is really great and really well written.
Overall I give Ringmaster ⅗ stars and I’m not sure if I will read the sequels. Maybe someday when I’m in the mood for another carnival book.